With Trump ill, honesty is essential

Early Returns

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President Donald Trump has tested positive for the coronavirus, along with First Lady Melania Trump and senior staffer Hope Hicks. 

To begin with, we should all wish them the mildest of cases and the quickest of recoveries. I'll say right away: Trump deserves credit for announcing the news himself after receiving the diagnosis, and it's good that the White House put out a statement from the president's doctor right away. 

That said, there are plenty of questions, and if the administration is smart it will answer as openly as possible — and at the very least, make sure to avoid anything that's even a little bit inaccurate. It's essential that the nation and the world can trust the White House right now, and given this administration's previous record (including about medical disclosures) it's starting from a deficit. The White House physician, Sean P. Conley, said that the Trumps are "both well at this time." That's not going to be enough. 

The public is entitled to detailed disclosure. And detailed disclosure is good for the president. It will build trust, tend to dissipate conspiracy theories and simply reassure everyone. It will likely go against every instinct Trump has to allow people to know about (much less see) any weakness, but he and those around him need to understand right now that if the White House is even once caught in a lie about this, it will mean that no one trusts anything they say again. And that's not a position he wants to be in. 

Meanwhile, Washington will be waking up Friday to speculation about which people may have been exposed, as reporters late Thursday night were already tracing the various contact chains involved. Again, the best White House policy is as much disclosure and openness as possible. 

No one deserves a horrible disease. It's also true, however, that Trump has consistently been reckless throughout the pandemic, including keeping to his schedule on Thursday after Hicks began having symptoms. Trump has actively discouraged and even mocked people, including former Vice President Joe Biden during the debate earlier this week, for following guidelines suggested by experts, including those on the president's own task force. In doing so, and in how he has run the White House and his campaign events, he has put himself and those around him in danger, and his example has made it more difficult for others to follow best practices. 

But to repeat: No one deserves an awful illness, and this thing can strike anyone, no matter how careful they are. I certainly wish all who have been infected a full and rapid recovery. 

1. Rick Hasen rushed out an item over at the Election Law Blog about the stuff that we all don't want to think about and hope never becomes relevant — the rules if a candidate must be replaced in the midst of an election

2. James A. McCann and Michael Jones-Correa at the Monkey Cage on the effects of Trump's anti-immigration talk.

3. Dana R. Fisher and Lara Putnam on getting out the vote.

4. Karen Pollitz explains pre-existing conditions. I'll say it again: I'm fairly certain Donald Trump has no idea what this policy question is about. 

5. Sarah Kliff and Margot Sanger-Katz on voters and Trump's health-care policy.

6. Adam Serwer on Trump's attack on Hunter Biden.

7. And my Bloomberg Opinion colleague Francis Wilkinson on where Democrats are getting their money.

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